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Hornet OIF

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Hornet OIF

Hornet OIF (OIF stands for "Operation Iraqi Freedom", let's not get into the politics of Iraq here - see my blog instead!) is a flight simulator for the F/A-18 Hornet jet fighter/attack aircraft which runs on Mac OS X. the program has been around in various forms for a few years now. There is a brief review of the earlier versions: Hornet 2 and 3 in this section of my web site.

Hornet has always been my favourite flight simulator for various reasons. First, the Hornet is a nice aircraft to simulate because its fast, maneuverable, and flexible (it is a useful fighter, attack aircraft, and bomber). Second, the simulation itself is a good combination of realism and ease of play. When I say ease of play I don't mean its the sort of program you can play well quickly. It takes many hours to learn about the Hornet's flight, weapons, navigation, and communications systems, and then comes the much more difficult task of using all that in effective tactics.

[Cockpit]

There's a lot you need to need to watch to fly a successful combat mission. And there's
another instrument panel similar to this one further down! The monitor on the left is
currently displaying weapons status. On the right is a display of the air to air radar.
And the HUD (heads up display projected onto the screen) shows flight information and
location of radar acquired objects. Don't forget that various radio messages and sound
is coming in to: Beep, beep (you're in a radar beam). And "Hornet 2 is bingo," from the
wingman, etc. Its all action!

The simulation has good graphics. I mean good, not great. The best parts are the Hornet itself which is very nicely modeled, and the clouds which are very realistic as they speed past. The land, and some buildings and ships aren't quite as good but this doesn't detract too much from the overall experience. The speed of the simulation is very good. Its always smooth on my PowerBook G4 1.33, even with all the options set to highest detail and highest resolution.

[Hornet]

As you can see above, the aircraft is realistically modelled (check out the blue flame
generated by the afterburners above!), and the clouds and land (at least from this altitude)
look quite realistic. Sometimes, playing this simulation and looking out the side of the
cockpit as you speed through the clouds you can almost feel like you really are flying!

There are many missions with varying levels of difficulty to complete, and for even more fun, a network multiple-player mode. But this is one of the few games which is actually good to play against the computer - with most other games I find single player to be a bit boring and predictable and stick to multi-player games.

I think this is going to be a game that has lasting appeal, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to play something with a bit more substance than the simple shooting games around. But if you aren't interested in learning the complex systems and tactics required, you should probably stick to something simpler!


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